The “Word of 2020” is undoubtedly…COVID.

With economies falling 2 digits worldwide, we can only expect colossal levels of poverty, hunger, unemployment, political polarization, health disruption and rising inequalities with the major impacts to be felt especially by the most vulnerable groups.

In a world endangered by a climate catastrophe and rising inequalities, COVID-19 brought another significant wave of disruption and, at the same time,  a last call to action for us, Humans: the governors of this planet (that we got as a gift). 

The only way forward is, as our School advocates, to Stand United, and fight for a common and prosper future. The path to get there is not shady or unknown: we have the strongest, global, common transformational agenda in our hands - The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

They are the first ever universal agreed agenda for the future, set in cooperation between Governments, business and global scientific community. While an analysis recently published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network underlines an expectation that the pandemic will drive negative impacts on 13 of the 17 SDGs, we know that, despite the uncoordinated way we had been dealing with COVID, to come together and cooperate in cross sector partnerships to achieve these goals is our only way forward for a common prosperity. 

In what regards companies, they have strong reasons to act: 

  1. SDG’s can unlock business opportunity worth of 12 trillion US dollars every year and generate up to 380 million new jobs by 2030. They are an innovation enhancer and they bring companies closer to the consumers’ sustainability expectations.
  2. The risk of inaction is costly, considering the operational, reputational and regulatory risks  implied in not adopting this agenda.
  3. SDGs adoption has considerable effects on lowering the cost of capital, as investors are already considering SDG’s compliance on their investment strategies. Measuring impact will also be the new reality for companies. 
  4. They are a guide on decision making and increase transparency, allowing companies to align their strategies with their fellow global players and launch basis for partnerships and shared prosperity.
  5. They allow companies to set clear goals and commit and motivate their workforce on a common plan for Good, as no other agenda is able to do.


COVID exposed economic inequalities as never before, showed our cooperation is still weak, our health systems are vulnerable and we are still very focused on the short term. But, on the other side, this is an extraordinary opportunity for reset and the perfect excuse to start acting on the accomplishment of our sustainable agenda.

Companies are already embarking on this agenda and showing us this is the path to follow:

  • In the UN Global Compact-Accenture Strategy 2019 CEO Study we see that, 99% of CEOs surveyed say sustainability is critical to the future success of their organization, and 81% of companies are taking action to progress the SDG’s. Still, only 48% of CEOs are implementing sustainability into their operations. We still have room to improve.
  • A World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s 2019 Reporting revealed that 84% of its members are currently identifying the SDGs that they feel are most relevant for their organization.


At the CRB we aim to raise awareness of the importance of the SDG agenda, help our partners to bring these goals to the core of their strategic plans, and we are also organizing several events to bring attention to it. A good example is an SDG workshop happening in October 2020 in partnership with the House of Beautiful Business.

In our last Research Note in May we analysed the effects of COVID in the sustainable agenda. We concluded that, despite the big challenges ahead, this virus is the perfect excuse to act. We have in our hands a ready-made universal framework, a shared alignment, a common purpose and a basis to cooperate.

It was never so important to address our vulnerabilities, reset our capitalist system, focus in the essentials and imagine the future we want, to make it real. 

May the word of the next decade be “Sustainability” and may us build this sustainable agenda together.

Have a great and impactful week!

Filipa Pires de Almeida

This article refers to edition #56 of the "Have a Great and Impactful Week" Newsletter.
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